Shoshin for Synergies

Blog post

Shoshin is a Japanese word meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject. Within this framework, there are many possibilities in the beginner’s mind, whereas there are only few in the expert’s mind. European Commission is now encouraging us to think and act with “Shoshin” and tap all the synergies. I believe that going beyond the obvious will prove useful.

We scientists and experts are masters of brilliant thinking, eloquent speech and organised communication, when in our own territory. When  we start going to events where we get exposed to ideas and truths from people whose topic is strange to us, we may feel uncomfortable. We may decide to stay out or we choose to jump into a discovery process and start listening to arguments, such as:

I am historian. I like to look at past to understand the present. I am chemist. I am interested in molecules. I am physicist. I need to know if we can have a mathematical model. I am economist. I am interested in productivity and I am not going to challenge the good old theories. I am political scientist. I am a bit of a pessimist as I am looking for failures in the democratic system. I am psychologist. I am interested in the human factor. I am philosopher and artist. I love conceptual design. I am citizen. I am not sure at all what those experts are doing or could care less.

Being biased is human

Is Artificial Intelligence going to even the bias out? AI is about algorithms, data and software. Can we master  complexity by systemic approach and selection of taxonomy? Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification.

Investing in research and innovation

European Commission proposes a pragmatic and focused long-term budget with modernised programmes to deliver efficiently on the EU’s priorities in the next Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 (MFF).  Investing in areas, such as research and innovation, young people, the digital economy, border management, security and defence, will contribute to prosperity, sustainability and security in the future.

The upcoming Horizon Europe programme emphasizes cross-cutting approach, synergies and partnerships

Proposal for Horizon Europe, the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, was published in June 2018 as an outcome of extensive EU-wide assessments and consultative processes. In July 2017, the Lamy Report recommended that within the next Framework Programme, the Commission should set R&I missions “that address global challenges”, and made a broad call for greater involvement of stakeholders and citizens within the programme.

Importance of cross-disciplinary, cross-sector and cross-border collaboration was stressed in the Lamy Report. And again, in the Mazzucato Report on Missions, published in January 2018. We have heard and spoken about synergies earlier but until now we have not seen it taking place in practice.

Compared to Horizon 2020 programme, cross-cutting approach of Horizon Europe is becoming stronger. For example, all Clusters in Pillar 2 (health; inclusive and secure society; digital and industry; climate, energy and mobility; food and natural resources) are cross-cutting, and it is expected that they use different financial instruments. Here, the synergy element becomes important.

In future, also partnerships should be focusing on delivering more, not only through Horizon Europe, but also through other programmes. This means opening up more towards Member States funding and programmes, alignment of research agendas and private investments – and vice versa

Synergies element is quite distinct also in the Multiannual Financial Framework proposal, and one can observe that there is a true attempt to connect various legal bases better to serve the purpose of building critical mass and focused interventions through combined funding.

Investment dimension and regulation dimension to research and innovation

Partnerships are obvious places where pooling of resources and synergies can happen. Particularly, innovation relates to partnerships. Much more synergies and innovation can happen, if the partnerships become more cross-cutting (cross-disciplinary, cross-sectoral, cross-border). Here, the value-chain approach may prove useful.

The MFF attempts to bring an investment dimension and a regulation dimension to research and innovation . Current Public Private Partnerships should get excited about the opportunities enabled, when Commission is introducing the new amendment to Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1588 of 13 July 2015, on the application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to certain categories of horizontal State Aid. Similarly, Member States authorities watching over national finances, should spend some time together with key stakeholders in territorial development and research and innovation to create a joint vision about how to benefit from synergies.